Osos Rivas QB Garrett DelleChiaie got the right guidance to excel in Europe

Garrett DelleChiaie always knew he wanted to play football.

So when the newly-crowned state champion quarterback sat down with his high school guidance counsellor near the end of his junior year to plot the path forward, he said the sport was in his long term plans.

Most would have dismissed the sub-six-foot, 190-pound teen as a ridiculous dreamer. Power 5 schools weren’t flooding to Leominster, Massachusetts to recruit him and the NFL seemed unattainable. Instead, the counsellor suggested another path for the youngster to make his dreams a reality: European football.

“He actually brought it up to me because he knew I loved football, but I think he was realistic about it too. I’m not a six-foot-five, 230-pound guy, I’m kind of undersized,” DelleChiaie recalls. “He was like, ‘why don’t you look into Germany? Because I think there’s a good league in Germany.’”

Garrett DelleChiaie threw for 8,475 yards and 81 TDs in his four years at Fitchburg State

The quarterback was intrigued and quickly found the information he needed on Google, filing it away at the back of his mind. After all was said and done, DelleChiaie decided he would head to Europe.

“He kind of got my head thinking like that,” the Osos Rivas pivot remarks. “He told me ‘you’ve got to just focus on next season and then focus on where you’re going to go to college. And then if you want to keep playing, you can get a tape together and it can work out’.”

Eventually, that is exactly what happened. DelleChiaie led his team to another state championship as a senior, then headed to Division III Fitchburg State, where he shattered school records in three seasons as a starter. A devastating ankle injury would rob him of most of his senior season and with no serious North American options, DelleChiaie headed to where his guidance counsellor suggested more than five years prior.

“I didn’t really know much about what teams were good and what leagues were good, so I just took a shot and went to the team that seemed the most interested, and that was the Ravensburg Razorbacks,” DelleChiaie says.

“I feel like I lucked out. I had a good team, I had some great receivers and we ended up winning back-to-back championships there.”

Osos Rivas QB Garrett DelleChiaie getting to to throw a pass Photo: Osos Rivas

In his two years with the Razorbacks, DelleChiaie was the key to turning the program into the top power in GFL2. Early on, the often overlooked passer took great pleasure in beating imports from much more illustrious backgrounds and found motivation on the rosters of upcoming opponents.

“I think where I came from kind of put a chip on my shoulder, being a small school, undersized guy,” he says. “I remember my first game in Europe, one of the American guys on the other team came from a bigger time school and he started talking crap about Fitchburg State.”

“That kind of just stuck with me, you know. To me, it doesn’t matter where you came from or where you’ve been, we’re all on the same field and in that moment, the only thing that matters is winning.”

There is no denying that DelleChiaie did a lot of that and the Razorbacks successfully secured elevation to the top league ahead of the 2020 season. But before he had a chance to prove himself in the European league he had aimed for since high school, the global pandemic led to a canceled GFL season. At home working construction, DelleChiaie sensed uncertainty from German teams ahead of 2021 and worried another season away would stall his career momentum.

Looking for leagues playing early in the year, DelleChiaie found Spain and reached out to the Osos Rivas. It turned out to be a serendipitous development, as the team had just signed running back Mike Gentili, a fellow Leominster native, who quickly convinced him to sign on board.

“I’ve known Mike since I was younger, watching him play in high school. Where we come from, it’s a big football city. You kind of know all the football players. Growing up, I knew the Gentili name for sure,” DelleChiae recalls.

“We actually faced each other once in college, my freshman year, it was his senior year. I saw he went to Italy around the same time I went to Germany, so we kind of stayed in contact, talking about our experiences and stuff. We always said it would be cool if we could play together and we finally made it happen this year.”

Garrett DelleChiaie throwing a pass for the Ravensburg Razorbacks in Germany Photo: Shakral Photography

The Massachusetts duo now have the Osos firing on all cylinder, leading an offence that has scored 87 points in the two games since their arrival with an up-tempo quick strike attack.

“I think that the kind of the offence that we’re implementing over here, it really fits the way I play,” DelleChiaie says. “I know my strengths and weaknesses. I might not have the strongest arm, but I try to use all the advantages that the offence can have.”

That impressive offensive output is part of a historic shift in Spanish football. Rivas has not claimed a Spanish title in 20 years and the Badalona Dracs have been untouchable for most of the last decade, but after the Las Rozas Black Demons easily toppled the reigning champs, the Osos took their fellow Madrid team to the brink last week. With DelleChiaie at the helm, Rivas has to be considered a serious contender.

“After the Black Demons game, I think something really clicked for our team, knowing the power that we have and what we’re capable of,” he says ahead of their matchup with the Gijon Mariners. “We’re more focused on our assignments and our execution than who we have to play against because we know our system right now.”

The competition in Spain is tougher than ever before and DelleChiaie is eager to find success in a country on the brink of a football renaissance.

“I love how the competition is rising. When I was telling the German teams that I’m going to go to Spain, a lot of them said the competition isn’t as good over here,” he admits. ” But a lot of the teams are signing good quality American imports and I think with that the level of play rising. As a whole, the league should start getting a little more respect.”

Maybe one day Spain will make the guidance counsellor’s career list.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.